- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 1, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana judge ruled yesterday that Planned Parenthood of Indiana must turn over to the state the medical records of its patients younger than 14.

Marion County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Johnson sided with the Indiana attorney general’s office in its quest to examine the medical records of 84 young patients.

However, the state said it will not press the matter and seek the records until all appeals have run their course.

“It would be our intent to wait until the process has worked itself through,” said Staci Schneider, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Steve Carter.

Planned Parenthood tried to stop the seizure, arguing that investigators were on a “fishing expedition,” perhaps to identify the partners of sexually active 12- and 13-year-olds. None of the 84 patients has received an abortion, Planned Parenthood said.

The attorney general’s office has said its Medicaid fraud unit “is investigating whether or not children were neglected by virtue of a failure to report instances of child molestation to the proper authorities.”

Planned Parenthood officials say the organization complies with the reporting law.

Since the state seized medical records of at least six patients in March, Planned Parenthood has instructed its clinics not to turn over medical records to the fraud control unit. Health care providers that refuse to cooperate with Medicaid fraud investigators can be disqualified from the program.

Judge Johnson’s ruling rejected Planned Parenthood’s arguments that the records’ seizure violated constitutional protections to privacy and against unreasonable searches. The judge said the courts must exercise restraint when asked to intervene against the executive branch of government.

“The great public interest in the reporting, investigation and prosecution of child abuse trumps even the patient’s interest in privileged communication with her physicians because, in the end, both the patient and the state are benefited by the disclosure,” Judge Johnson wrote.

Indiana law defines sexual activity with a child younger than 14 as child molesting, no matter how old the partner is.

Planned Parenthood said it will seek a stay delaying enforcement of the judge’s ruling.

“We absolutely intend to uphold the privacy of our doctor-patient relationships,” said Betty Cockrum, chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Indiana.

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